Plastic-Free Tortilla Chips and Nacho Mama’s Layered Dip Recipe

We don’t eat tortilla chips very often, but for special occasions, like the Super Bowl, we’ll splurge! Tortilla chips have been a difficult thing for us to find plastic-free and zero waste. The last time we wanted some, we perused the chip aisle at the grocery store and finally found paper bags of commercially made tortilla chips, only to find at our dismay when we got home that the bags were lined with plastic inside! So aggravating!

So this time, we tried something new. A couple days before Super Bowl Sunday, I went into one of our local Mexican restaurants (Ixtapa Duvall Family Restaurant & Cantina) as asked if we could order some tortilla chips to go on Sunday. They were more than happy to oblige! To sweeten the pot, I’d brought in two large paper grocery bags from the neighboring grocery store, wanting to make it easier on the restaurant staff. They figured out how many chips it’d take to fill the bags, set up my order, took my payment, and I was off.

Sunday came and on our way to the party we stopped at the restaurant to pick up the chips and there were my two bags FULL of fresh chips—you know, the awesome restaurant tortilla chips that come to your table with salsa that you can’t stop eating? They were in smaller paper bags inside my bigger bags, all ready to take to the party! Granted, I ordered way too many, being my first time doing this, but I can’t tell you how excited everyone was to have restaurant chips instead of stale grocery store chips! And bonus for me, no plastic and the bags soaked up excess oil! Once empty, the paper bags went right into the yard debris/food waste bin to be picked up by our waste hauler and composted. We gave extra chips to our family and friends and the other extras got tucked into our freezer for another time (Yes! Freeze your extra chips—it really does work!).

Being zero waste doesn’t always mean that you are left out from your favorite or special things. It just takes a little bit of forethought and imagination sometimes. Most restaurants have catering menus that you can order from, and if you talk to them beforehand, you can often come up with less- or zero waste options that accommodate both you and them. I wouldn’t suggest dropping by at the last minute to get a whole party’s worth of chips, I’d give them a little notice. I’m sure they would’ve been none-too-pleased had I shown up an hour before the Super Bowl and cleaned them out of half of their chips for their cantina party! And I think it helps to go into the restaurant and talk to them in person, with the container you want to fill, rather than over the phone, so everyone knows exactly what you’re asking for.

So what did we have with our yummy, sinful restaurant chips? My famous Nacho Mama’s Layered Dip! This has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. I remember the first time my mom made a layered bean dip in the 80s—mind blown! Once I became vegan, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to have this dip due to the sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, but once I discovered vegan queso and cashew sour cream nine years ago…game on, the layered bean dip was back, only it was not my mama’s!

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4.43 from 7 votes

Nacho Mama's Layered Dip

Bring back the 80s with the crowd-pleasing layered bean dip! It's so good and nobody will ever notice that it's whole food, plant-based! Serve with tortilla chips and vegetable crudites.
Course Appetizer, Snack, Spreads, Dips, Sauces, and Dressings
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Kids, Party, Soy-Free, Tex-Mex
Servings 10 people
Calories 196.8kcal
Author Cindy Thompson, MS, NBC-HWC | Trimazing! Health & Lifestyle Coaching


Refried Bean Layer:

  • 1 15 oz. can Refried Beans or homemade

Guacamole Layer:

  • 1 cup guacamole

For Sour Cream Layer:

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked in water at least 2 hours
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Salsa Layer:

  • 1 cup salsa

Vegan Queso Layer:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews or raw rolled oats for lower fat
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice or lime juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 oz. tomato paste or more adobo sauce
  • 1 clove garlic


  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet bell pepper any color
  • 1/4 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeno peppers optional
  • hot sauce optional


  • Get a large serving plate or dish with at least a 1 inch high lip, like an 11x14 dish or round serving platter.
  • Spread refried beans to cover the bottom of the dish. These are my favorite
  • Top with guacamole and spread to cover.
  • Drain the cashews from their soaking liquid and add to a high speed blender. Add the 1/2 cup water, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Blend, adding more water if needed. Blend until smooth and creamy. Spread over the guacamole.
  • Pour salsa over the top and spread to cover.
  • Make the Vegan Queso. Add queso ingredients to a high speed blender and bring to high speed until smooth.
    Now, you can either pour this into a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until thick, or just keep the blender running on high until the sauce gets steamy and thick, about 5 minutes.
    Pour over top of the salsa and spread to cover, encapsulating all of the ingredients.
  • Sprinkle with scallions, olives, tomato, bell pepper, and cilantro. Either sprinkle sliced jalapenos and hot sauce over the top or serve alongside.


Can make the night before, cover and refrigerate before serving.


Calories: 196.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.1g | Protein: 5.7g | Fat: 13.8g | Saturated Fat: 2.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8.1g | Sodium: 1043.6mg | Potassium: 466.5mg | Fiber: 4.2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 634.1IU | Vitamin C: 17.6mg | Calcium: 35.7mg | Iron: 2.2mg

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4.43 from 7 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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